The YCW Organises, Educates and Empowers young people to be a positive change within their own lives and the community.
Young People Stories

Samantha Tyler


“Don’t let your personal life get in the way of work”… “How could anybody do that to innocent elderly people?” …. “Sam are you OK to work, do you need more time?”…


This is a story of grief from the death and tragedy of a loved one, how I understand the professional/personal life balance and the supportive kindness of my work colleagues.


The Quakers Hill nursing home fire resulted in the death of over 11 residents and many others who suffered grievous bodily harm. I kept up the visits for 4 years after leaving school and made good friends with a very special old lady.


Five days after the fire and 3 days after her death we had a worker reflection/retreat day (I was working for YCW as an admin worker at the time). At the end of the day I was in the kitchen doing something when my boss asked me “Sam you aren’t your usual smiling self today- are you sick or not feeling well?” To which I replied “I’m sorry… one of my friends died recently-actually murdered”…. And I went running out of the kitchen ,out the back door and began to whale my guts out in anger.  My boss immediately followed, accompanied by 2 other workers- one which embraced me in her arms held me whilst I bawled my eyes out and screamed every bit of anger and frustration at the person responsible for the fire. Until that day I had not let the reality set in and the delayed realisation eventually came… As my family didn’t really know how to react to this situation nor could they share in my grief , this moment at work helped me to understand what I was going through and how it was impacting my emotional and mental state and wellbeing. I was able to place my thoughts better as I had allowed myself to feel that anger and let the next processes of understanding and healing begin.  Support, strength, flexibility, compassion, crying with, initiative, etc. are all important qualities and just as important in cultivating a respectful, safe and strong workplace. 


Samantha is a YCW member in Parramatta, currently working part-time.



Eliza Cruse

The author of the book Where the Hell is God?, Fr Richard Leonard SJ, has been through a few significantly rough times in his life and questioned God's role in this suffering.


Whilst reading this text, I realised that God would never put pain or unpleasant experiences upon us to test us, although such experiences may challenge us. As any parent, God would want the best for us and is always there to give support to us in our journey. God, as an ever-present and unchanging God, cannot simply elevate any pain or suffering that we go through but can always be relied upon to guide us in the attitude we choose and to help us to see the positives.


This realisation made my relationship with God much more comfortable. While I had never been angry or upset with God for what I thought was burdening me, I had often wondered why God chose me for such a journey. I now understand that situations that arise are circumstantial, biological or environmental and they come about from God gracing us with free will. God wants for me what I want for me and I know that God will always be my source of refuge and guidance.


"My precious child, love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."


Eliza is a YCW member in Adelaide, currently studying and working casually.



I was first introduced to this volunteering opportunity, which requires a weekend commitment of about 3-6 hours per week, from my dedicated brother who has been volunteering with the Salvation Army and Young Christian Workers for a while now. I am not at all religious but the idea of helping others was something that I was interested in.

I just basically started today (Saturday 13th of October 2012) and my role was to assist a group of people in developing their computer skills. In my 3 hours of assisting others, I have come to realise just how much I have taken for granted the skills that I have gained from having an education. 

One of the lady's that I was working with one-on-one was so happy with my assistance. Upon thanking me, she said that she will definitely be back next week (it was also her first time there) and she will be recommending the class to others. The project coordinator on being a natural also complimented me.

Because my brother had the role of taking minutes during an after session meeting, I had the opportunity to liaise with one of the other project coordinators who stated that they will be starting project, 'Job Club', to assist those who need help with their resume and interviewing skills and asked if I would consider doing some coordination work for the project.

Overall, the experience was definitely positive. I enjoyed helping others develop their skills and abilities and in doing so they have also helped me improve my skills and abilities. I like to think that I did make somewhat of a difference. I will definitely continue volunteering!


Melanie is a part of the Volunteer Leadership Program and is a member of the Parramatta YCW.




So, why don’t you tell us about yourself…?


Interviewing is regularly viewed as a daunting experience and rightly so. You are placed in an unfamiliar place in front of strangers and expected in a limited amount of time to outline why your skills, experience and personality make you are a suitable addition to a workplace.

However intimidating this experience can be, it is not only a necessary part of employment but can also be rewarding when you receive an offer of employment.

It is often said that worrying about things is important; it means that we care about something and want to do our best. The best approach to interviews is to recognise them as an opportunity to improve how we communicate who we are and what we represent.

Over the past few months, I have attended many interviews, been asked dozens of questions and shaken a fair few hands. Contrary to popular belief, I enjoyed every single one of them. This came down to a number of factors which I will now explain.

Know Your Employer

Research is a key starting point for any job application; it is essential that you understand the role, the aims and goals of a company and why their culture is a good fit for you. Before this year, I never understood how to go about researching. I generally focused on the aspects: who they are, what’s their business, what the role entails. This is a very narrow approach to gain knowledge about an employer.

While having a broad understanding of an organisation is a great start, don’t be afraid to get into the nitty gritty. Really delve below the surface, and find things that you are particularly interested in. After viewing the “About Us” page, my next stop is always corporate responsibility or community involvement. My passion is for justice and community engagement, so finding out areas where the company exhibits this enables me to talk about it with genuine interest and enthusiasm.


Train for the Event

Crucial to performing well in an activity is preparation. Success is found where preparation and opportunity meet. Do an internet search and you will find dozens of sample questions that are commonly asked in interviews.


Preparing for behavioural based questions will always be beneficial. I like to use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action and Result) as it is the most systematic process to provide a valuable response. In addition to this, I recommended dividing a piece of paper into squares and trying to describe as many positive actions as possible that represent different examples of: teamwork, organisation, time management, resolving conflict, assisting others, academic success etc. This is a simple way to support your statements with situations where you have demonstrated these characteristics.

Dress to Impress

Many people struggle with what is appropriate attire to wear to an interview. As a general rule, it’s better to be over dressed than underdressed.


For guys: Suit Up! Make sure your shirt is ironed and your shoes are polished. Clean shaven is usually best. There are many websites that assist with colours and suit styles. I personally recommended David Jones for assisting in picking the perfect tie.

For girls: Comfortable shoes are a must! Make sure you have band aids to take the edge of blisters. Hair can be up or down, as long as it looks neat and tidy. Make up is optional, but should be used in moderation. There is no really difference between dress pants and a skirt, so wear whatever you feel most confident in. Ensure your skirt length is appropriate and your shirt is not expelling cleavage.


First impressions are important, so go for a professional look!

Take a Chill Pill!

No one wants to go into an interview looking like a nervous wreck. If you’ve researched and prepared you should feel confident and ready. Taking deep breaths is always good. Maybe have some mantras running through your head as you walk into the building. As long as you know what works for you, everything will be fine.


You will most likely me greeted by a receptionist and asked to take a seat. You will most likely to be welcomed by the interviewer and perform a handshake exchange. You will most likely be asked if you’d like some water/tea/coffee. You will definitely be asked a series of questions and be expected to respond to the best of your ability.

Remember, the employer already has your application, so don’t just repeat your resume. Bring something new to the table. When you talk about yourself, include an interesting hobby or activity you like to do outside of work. Let your personality and passions come across. The main objective is to distinguish yourself from other candidates. In order to get an interview, your application has already proven you have the relevant qualifications and experience for the role, so let your individuality shine.


Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I always try to ask three to four interesting questions. Even if it’s a generic question, re-word it so it becomes unique and personal. Asking questions is a great technique to demonstrate your ability to research, work under pressure and exhibit interest in the company.


It’s OVER!

….But not entirely! Take the time to review what questions you answered well and which ones you struggled with. If this is only the first round of interviews or you have others to attend, this will assist you in improving in the future, as generally questions are repeated by different organisations.

In addition to this, why not send some thank you notes? A quick email or a hand written card gives you one last chance to show you are really enthusiastic about the position. Plus, gratitude always pays. If you miss out on the position, they may consider you for other roles in the future.


And the winner is….?

Even if it’s a no, be gracious in defeat. Thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity for an interview. You never know, another role might become available and you may be remembered for your humility.

If it’s a yes, good for you! You have secured a positioned! Be explicit and say you wish to confirm your acceptance. This will usually result in administrative procedures such as an employment contract and additional work checks. Remember to congratulate yourself on your achievement.

Sometimes a yes can put you into a difficult situation: what if after the interview, the employer isn’t a good fit for you? I find so much time is spent worrying about the low employment prospects for youth that no one really expects to get an offer that they will not accept.

Declining an offer is almost like saying no to a romantic prospect: You must be respectful and thank them for their interest, but make it clear that you will not be pursuing the relationship further. If you have asked for some time to think about the offer, get back to the interviewer as soon as you know. They may have other candidates they need to contact to fill the position if you decline.

Ultimately, interviewing is an opportunity to present your personality to an employer. Occasionally, people who pretend to be something they’re not end up working for companies they didn’t want to. In these cases a rejection is a blessing in disguise. Whatever happens: be yourself and enjoy the experience. It’s just a conversation after all!


By Tara O'Toole.


Young Women At Work – A Worker’s Story



I am Clarissa P. Cena, 20 years old living in Candulawan, Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines. A YCW member since 2011.

We are 7 siblings in the family, consisting of 3 brothers and 3 sisters and I am the second to the youngest. I am an honor student since elementary until high school in a public school.

Though I wanted to continue my study in tertiary level but was not able to proceed because after my graduation in high school my parents told me that I need to stop schooling because of the higher tuition fees in college they cannot afford to send and support me.

The fact that my father is a public utility jeepney driver and earning only for our daily needs and my mother is a plain housewife. With this reality and seeing myself not to continue my study I decided to go to work to earn some amount of money to support my study later.

I applied in agency and they send me to private company as a janitress with 8 hour work and Php325.00 salary per day or US7.38 ($9.43AUD). It took only 3 months for me to work in the agency because I am only a reliever or an on call worker, usually 3 day’s work in a week. I don’t receive any benefits from the company.

My second job was a cashier in a junk shop with a Php150.00 per day salary or US3.40 ($4.35AUD) and with 10 hour’s work. I also left the job because my employer wants me to take care of the child of their relatives and I felt it’s hard for me to do the work so I decided to resign.

Despite of all what happened in my previous job, I am very eager to look and save some amount of money for my study until I applied and hired as a sales clerk in a pharmacy. My salary was Php153.00 per day or US3.47 ($4.44AUD) working from 9:30am to 7:30pm without benefits; the same with the 2 jobs I experienced.

This is my reality for almost 1 year and I felt too tired with the situation. Bearing in mind my dreams to finish study retreating is not the option to take, I realized that if you’re not a college or graduate in that level you have a little chance to get a good job with enough salary.

With this perspective I am now a working student of a couple who were instructors of the University where I am studying. I am taking a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Banking and Finance Management.

Though I am a working student, I still manage to focus more of my time on studies, and am glad to say that I am one of the dean’s lister in our department.

My life as a working student is not easy. I have to wake up around 4:00 in the morning to begin my work, like preparing for the breakfast of my employer and other household chores, and it’s a whole day work when I don’t have a class.

As a working student, I oblige to stay in their house and need to work there for one year without pay so I became a domestic helper first before they allowed me to my schooling.

They paid my tuition fees only but the other needs in school like projects and other miscellaneous I need to provide and pay for myself. They just give me Php500.00 or US11.36 ($14.52AUD) allowance per month and they don’t allow me to go home even if there is a special holiday. My class is only three days in a week alternately. So most of the time I’m working in their house or in their water refilling station business.

Seeing this reality with the help of YCW, I decided not to continue to work with my current employer because during the follow up and ROLWA of YCW, to me I’ve seen many things on how to continue my studies without degrading my life and losing my strength for them.

I will just finish this semester, and I will transfer to one YCW Cebu collaborator who gave their word of help in assisting me to finish my studies. All of these realities and struggles will surely cannot endure without the reflections, recommendations and ROLWA among my fellow comrades as well as collaborators and chaplain.

Having faith, hope and continuing action personally and with the group always gave me courage to push myself more, and for sure with the help of YCW I know my dreams as a graduate student will be achieved.

If these things happen I will be much able to help my family. YCW continue to inspire me and serves as my foundation for pursuing my dreams. They gave me good advice and motivation. It gives me wisdom. I’ve learned how to be strong to face the day to day challenges in life.

Prepared by:

Clarissa P. Cena

YCW – Cebu Member

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